New Puerto Rico Governor Finally Overcoming Challenges

Aug 14, 2019
3:37 PM

In this handout photo provided by the Governor’s Office, Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez embraces a cafeteria worker during a visit to the Ramon Marin Sola School, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, Monday, Aug. 12, 2019. (Governor’s Office via AP)

By MARIELA SANTOS, Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Puerto Rico’s new governor finally appeared to be overcoming some of the challenges to her authority on Wednesday following weeks of political turmoil on the U.S. territory, with key members of the majority New Progressive Party expressing support.

That may allow Gov. Wanda Vázquez, who has never held elected office, to turn her attention to the territory’s lagging efforts to recover from 2017’s devastating Hurricane Maria as well as grinding economic slump and debt crisis that has led to demands for austerity from a federal board overseeing its finances.

Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz, who had been seen as her chief challenger, issued a statement on Facebook Wednesday backing her and saying he’d only been looking for a replacement because he thought Wanda Vázquez didn’t want the governor’s job—though his efforts had continued well after she said she did.

“It’s up to all of us to work for Puerto Rico,” he said. “The governor will have our collaboration, and I have expressed that personally.”

Rivera Schatz had suggested the post go to the island’s congressional representative, Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González. But González too issued a statement of support for Vázquez on Tuesday.

Under the territory’s constitution, the governorship fell to Justice Secretary Vázquez on Aug. 7 because Gov. Ricardo Rosselló resigned after intensive public protests and his attempt to name a last-minute successor were knocked down by the territory’s Supreme Court.

The topsy-turvy events at least briefly divided the party, with several legislators saying last week they wanted González to become governor.

Demonstrators in front of La Fortaleza Mansion in San Juan. Wanda Vázquez is sworn in as Governor of Puerto Rico today Wednesday August 7, 2019 in San Juan Puerto Rico. (AP Photo by Dennis M. Rivera Pichardo)

Members of her party from across the island have since been falling in line to declare support and Vázquez so far has been spared the massive protests that drove Rosselló from power due to outrage over government corruption, economic malaise and the leak of embarrassing conversations involving the governor and top aides.